Le Mans Hypercar: Where Things Stand & Your Questions Answered
Whose in and when?
6 December 2019, 3:50 PM
After 24 hours of no little confusion with some conflicting messages caused by a somewhat ill-focused FIA communique, there’s relative calm today as the various questions raised yesterday are cleared up.
Let’s run through them briefly:
Does the need for an “homologated car” mean that there must be roadgoing versions of the race car?
No. All current LMP race cars are homologated and all have a ‘technical passport’ which is used both in the approval process and in technical checks on the cars during race meetings. This aspect of the regulations is not a change from the norm.
It should be added though that with the exception of the Peugeot programme, all currently known Hypercar programmes do intend to build and market road-going versions of their race cars.
Does a Le Mans Hypercar programme need to be a factory effort?
No, but it does need to have a link to a manufacturer (though the definition of ‘manufacturer’ is not yet clear).
There must be a declaration from the allied manufacturer on their approval and on any commitment made to the Championship and programme. It is not clear whether an engine supplier would be permitted to make such a declaration, but it seems likely that if they were to do so the car would have to be named, at least in part, to that manufacturer.
There is (not unusually) a ‘catch-all’ in the regulations that gives final approval to the Endurance Committee.
Incidentally this regulation is very close to that which defines what can, and cannot, be a DPi in IMSA racing.
Does that regulation mean that any of the currently known programmes will not be permitted?
Toyota and Aston Martin are automotive manufacturers. Glickenhaus is a registered manufacturer in their home market and look set to sign an OEM engine supply deal.
Peugeot too is an automotive manufacturer
Little is know of the details of the ByKolles programme, but it would need to comply and/or satisfy the Endurance committee of that compliance.
Does that mean that customer cars are not permitted?
No. Our understanding is that the declaration from a manufacturer would cover any customer cars too. The homologation would, of course, be identical.
So where does that currently leave the teams that have currently committed and/or made any form of declaration of interest?
Toyota Gazoo Racing
Toyota is committed for 2020/21 with two GR Super Sport cars. These will be pure racing prototype chassis with front axle hybrid drive. There will be a road car version of the race car.
There are no indication of plans for customer cars as yet.
A road-car ‘mule’ has been seen testing but the race car will not test until post Le Mans 2020.
Aston Martin will enter two race versions of the Aston Martin Valkyrie, built by Multimatic, powered by a Cosworth V12 engine that features no hybrid system.
The Valkyrie will be road car based. The road car has been testing recently but the race version will be on similar programme to the Toyota (see above).
Aston Martin say nothing has changed since the programme announcement at Le Mans last year. The project is on track though development deadlines, as for all of the programmes, are tight
Initial signs of a two-car Season 1 Hypercar effort with customer Valkyries have cooled somewhat, but it is still possible that we could see an R-Motorsport Valkyrie during 2020/21. The programme seems to have slipped somewhat as the race is on to build and develop the first cars.
team promises information soon on its 2020 plans
Scuderia Cameron Glickenhaus
Glickenhaus is commited from 2020/21. It will bring two SCG 007 cars to the entry, racing prototype chassis, though with a roadgoing equivalent which will feature a more road-optiomised chassis/tub. The car will feature a twin-turbo V6 powerplant (believed to be an Alfa Romeo unit). Like Aston’s Valkyrie, it will not be hybrid powered.
Race cars are to be built by long-time Glickenhaus partner Podium Engineering in Italy with an engine builder/ tuner already appointed.
There is very limited information available for ByKolles’ planned 2020/21 programme. The former WEC LMP1 team is known to be working on an hybrid-drivetrain Hypercar programme.
Most recent communication indicates that the car will be revealed at Le Mans in 2020. Previously it has stated publicly that it intends to race its CLM P1/01 grandfathered into the top class during the first season of Hypercar alongside its new challenger.
The current G60-LT-P1 cars are available for customers to enter in the 2020/21 FIA WEC, the Ginetta team encouraged by both the car’s speed and reliability.
Current expectation is for at least one season of grandfathered current LMP1 non-hybrids.
Beyond that the Yorkshire, UK-based outfit is known to be talking to a number of parties interested in a future Hypercar programme.
See below for the Swiss team’s newly announced hook-up with Peugeot.
No news yet though of whether we will see the current R13 continue in grandfathered form for next season (or indeed beyond) before the Peugeot Hypercar comes on stream.
There is no news either of any resurrection of the BR1 LMP1 programme which showed real promise in 2018/19.
2022/23 (though looking likely to request a start towards end of 2021/22 season including Le Mans). The appeal of the centenary of the Le Mans 24 Hours in 2023 is clearly a major determining factor for Peugeot.
Factory entry with hybrid powertrain.Confirmed partnership with Rebellion Racing. No confirmation as yet on any deal with ORECA.
Most recent statements from the newly forged Brabham Automotive outfit are that they are now focusing on the Hypercar class (likely with a revised version of the BT62) rather than GTE.
There is no indication as yet on full commitment, or indeed when that commitment would be aimed at delivering a race programme.
Gordon Murray Automotive
The design guru and ‘father’ of the last road going ‘Hypercar’ to win Le Mans (the McLaren F1) Gordon Murray, has said publicly that he is evaluating the new regulations for a potential race programme for his forthcoming T.50 road car.
Again there are no specific details of any programme as yet
The interesting dynamic here is the potential within Hypercar for a hybrid drivetrain and a reported reluctance within the group of potential DPi 2.0 manufacturers to commit to electrification.
On the face of it that leaves three available options for Ford: 1. Persuade IMSA to go down the hybrid route, at least as an option. 2. Look towards Hypercar and work for an agreement for a unified top class at the signature events. 3. Do nothing in endurance racing.
It’s all quiet on the McLaren front once again – with few signs of an imminent commitment anywhere.
But an upturn, at least to some degree, in F1 form, and movement on the commercial front for the F1 team too is a good omen.
No news of late but there are parties involved that would like to see progress. Could the Le Mans centenary be a prime motivator in bringing together a programme for the partly state-owned company (Renault)?
Auris has no firm news beyond a wish to be involved at some point in the top class. Hypercar has been mentioned several times in conversation and public statements but with no firm plan announced.
Speaksing to DSC recently, Roman Rusinov said: “I cannot say we (G-Drive/Aurus) will do LMP1 (or race in the top class) next year.
“It would not be intelligent from my side, because it’s a much more complex set of decisions. But what we will do in Le Mans for the next two years has to be decided soon.”
A number of major OEMS are keeping a watching brief. But, a combination of factors are preventing more marques coming forward.
These include the over-arching reluctance of the automotive industry to commit to programmes, some specific company-related policies from some, and continuing confusion with reference to Hypercar/ DPi 2.0′ they are all playing a part.